Quality Schools frequently asked questions

The Australian Government is delivering new school funding and reform arrangements. To explain the reforms in more detail some frequently asked questions are available below.

A series of Quality Schools fact sheets that explain the schools reform package in more detail are also available.

What changes have been made to the Australian Education Act 2013?

On 23 June 2017, amendments to the Australian Education Act 2013 (the Act) passed through the Federal Parliament to give effect to the Australian Government's Quality Schools package.

For the first time, Commonwealth schools funding will be truly needs-based. Commonwealth funding will be based on the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) that provides a base amount per student and additional funding for disadvantage.  

Changes to funding arrangements include:

  • The Government will increase its contribution to the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS):
    • from the current average of 17 per cent for government schools to 20 per cent by 2027
    • from the current average of 76.8 per cent for non-government schools to 80 per cent by 2027.
  • All schools will transition to consistent shares of the SRS within 10 years—with those schools below the SRS share transitioning fastest over six years.
  • State and territory governments will be required to deliver their share of a total public funding level of at least 95 per cent of the SRS for all schools by 2023, unless otherwise agreed with the Commonwealth.
  • A new National School Resourcing Board will be established to review elements of the funding model under the Act and the Australian Education Regulation 2013 (the Regulation), and assess compliance of approved authorities with their requirements.
  • There will be interim funding arrangements for 12 months for some non-government school systems while a review of the process for calculating parents' capacity to contribute to school funding is undertaken by the Board.
  • The loading for students with disability will be based on the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD), which will mean better targeted and nationally consistent Commonwealth funding for students with disability.

When will the new funding arrangements take effect?

The new funding arrangements will take effect from 1 January 2018. From that point, schools will begin transitioning to the new consistent shares of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) over six and 10 years—depending on their starting points.

A majority of schools currently attract less than the new Commonwealth shares – to ensure they receive their fair share of Commonwealth funding sooner, these schools will transition to their new shares in six years (by 2023).

Schools that are currently funded above the new Commonwealth share of the SRS will transition over a slightly longer and more manageable period, reaching their new SRS share by 2027.

What does this mean for my school?

More than 99 per cent of schools will see a year on year increase in funding. On average, per student funding from the Australian Government, will grow 4.1 per cent each year over the next decade.

Will any schools lose funding?

A very small number of non-government schools, are expected to have their recurrent funding reduced as they transition to the SRS. This is because these non-government schools have historically received more funding than similar schools with students with the same level of need.

The funding reduction will occur in a manageable way, with most affected schools set to have a reduction in Commonwealth funding of less than two per cent a year over the next four years.

What is the National School Resourcing Board?

The Australian Government will establish the National School Resourcing Board (the Board) to review elements of the funding model under the Act and the Regulation, and assess compliance of approved authorities with the requirements of the Act.

Membership of the Board is set out in the Act. Appointments will be made by the Australian Government Minister for Education and Training, in consultation with state and territory education ministers through Education Council, and national representative bodies for Catholic and Independent schools.

Priority work of the Board will be to undertake a review of the methodology to calculate a school SES score used to estimate parents' capacity to contribute to their child's education at non-government schools.

What are the interim arrangements for non-government school systems, while the National School Resourcing Board undertakes the socio-economic status (SES) score methodology review?

A priority for the National School Resourcing Board once it is established will be to undertake a review of the SES score methodology. SES scores determine capacity to contribute arrangements for most non-government schools.

The Board's review of the SES score methodology will be completed in time for any proposed changes to take effect from the 2019 school year.

Under current arrangements, some systemic schools have their SES score determined at the system level. The 'system weighted average' SES score will be removed from 2018 meaning all SES scores will be applied at the individual school level even if a school is part of a system.

Systems will retain the ability to redistribute funding. The Government has committed to extend the current funding Catholic and other non-government system schools receive using system-weighted average SES scores for 2018.

This funding will apply to non-government systems which had the SES scores of their school calculated through a system-weighted average calculation in 2017.

How is funding for students with disability being improved?

From 2018, the Commonwealth's student with disability loading will be based on a new national data collection, the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD), that provides more information about what adjustments a student needs at school to be able to access education.

To ensure this data is of the highest possible quality, the Australian Government will provide $20 million over four years (2017-18 to 2020-21) for the NCCD Continuous Improvement Fund to support quality assurance, continuous improvement and moderation of the NCCD data across all sectors.

How will the Government's plan improve student achievement?

The Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools, chaired by Mr David Gonski AC, will provide advice on how the additional investment should be used to improve school and student achievement.

The Review findings will inform a new national schools agreement between the Commonwealth and the states and territories, to make sure that reform actions are based on a solid understanding of what works. Implementation of reforms will be a condition of funding for states and territories.

In 2016, the Australian Government released its Quality School, Quality Outcomes to improve student outcomes in Australian schools.

What will states and territories be required to do?

State and territory governments will be required to deliver their share of a total public funding level of at least 95 per cent of the SRS for all schools by 2023, unless otherwise agreed with the Commonwealth, as an ongoing condition of receiving Commonwealth funding.

States and territories will also be required to sign a new national schools agreement with the Commonwealth. This agreement will be supported by bilateral implementation agreements with each state and territory.

Previous arrangements

What was the 2011 Gonski review and what did it recommend?

The 2011 Review of Funding for Schooling was commissioned by the former Government and led by Mr David Gonski AC.

The report made many recommendations, but central to the review was the concept of a needs based approach to funding that provided a 'schooling resource standard' with:

  • a base amount per student
  • loadings for disadvantage.

How was the 2011 Gonski Review implemented?

While the SRS was included in the previous version of the Act, Commonwealth recurrent funding varied considerably depending on negotiated arrangements with state and territory governments.

This means students with the same need in the same sector were treated differently because of the state in which they lived.

Even the most overfunded schools received annual increases in funding of three per cent.

If the previous arrangements had continued, the transition to more consistent needs-based funding would not occur within decades, or even within 150 years in some instances.

What is the Government doing to fix this?

Under the new arrangements announced by the Government, students with the same need within the same sector are treated the same, regardless of where they live.

Within 10 years, all schools will receive their new share of Commonwealth funding.

The Government will invest record levels of recurrent school funding, increasing from $17.5 billion in 2017 to $30.6 billion in 2027.

This is an increase of over 75 per cent in Australian Government funding to schools over the next 10 years – well above inflation and enrolment growth.

The schools that are furthest behind will receive the fastest increase in funding.